Mark Zuckerberg promises to ‘fix’ Facebook in 2018

5 Jan 2018

Mark Zuckerberg. Image: catwalker/Shutterstock

Facebook’s chief executive wants to make major improvements to the platform.

Since 2009, Mark Zuckerberg has written about his New Year’s resolutions on Facebook. From learning Mandarin to building an AI assistant for his home, the past few years of challenges have been rather personal.

Yesterday, he posted on Facebook with a much more serious and far-reaching goal of fixing the issues plaguing the company in recent times.

Since the election of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States, Facebook (along with other tech firms) has been under a microscope in terms of its failings.

Major problems at Facebook

Zuckerberg himself originally described the concept of Facebook influencing political affairs as “crazy”, but he and the company have begun to take more responsibility for certain problems.

From the dissemination of fake news and harmful content, to enabling discrimination of ethnic groups using advertising targeting, there are certainly a lot of improvements to be made.

It seems that Zuckerberg has been doing some serious reflection on the role Facebook and technology now play in the world.

He wrote: “The world feels anxious and divided, and Facebook has a lot of work to do – whether it’s protecting our community from abuse and hate, defending against interference by nation states or making sure that time spent on Facebook is time well spent.”

Zuckerberg discusses challenges ahead

“My personal challenge for 2018 is to focus on fixing these important issues. We won’t prevent all mistakes or abuse, but we currently make too many errors enforcing our policies and preventing misuse of our tools. If we’re successful this year, then we’ll end 2018 on a much better trajectory.”

He also discussed an issue on the minds of many in the tech industry, saying that some got into the field as they “believe it can be a decentralising force that puts more power into people’s hands”.

Zuckerberg noted that few people hold this opinion today: “With the rise of a small number of big tech companies – and governments using technology to watch their citizens – many people now believe technology only centralises power rather than decentralises it.”

He did say that there are important “countertrends” to this, citing encryption and cryptocurrency as examples of taking power back from centralised systems.

These are not without their own issues, added Zuckerberg. “But they come with the risk of being harder to control. I’m interested to go deeper and study the positive and negative aspects of these technologies, and how best to use them in our services.”

Could 2018 be the year that big tech becomes more transparent with increased accountability? Only time will tell.

Mark Zuckerberg. Image: catwalker/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects